there’s a tech cham­pion at city hall

We talked to Toronto’s chief in­no­va­tion ad­vo­cate, Michelle Hol­land, about ush­er­ing city hall into the 21st cen­tury

Toronto Life - - This City -

What’s the big­gest problem with Toronto’s tech world right now?

We need to at­tract more tal­ent. That’s why the fed­eral govern­ment is pour­ing money into the tech sec­tor. They know it’s on fire. Trump’s elec­tion also helped at­tract peo­ple who would have oth­er­wise gone to the States.

If you could change some­thing about Toronto’s tech scene with the snap of your fin­gers, what would it be?

There would be more women in tech. More women feel­ing em­pow­ered and more women at the ta­ble.

An­other big is­sue is the dis­tance be­tween Toronto and Water­loo. Are you work­ing on any big in­fra­struc­ture plans to bridge the gap?

I would love to see the Hyper­loop here, and ap­par­ently the prov­ince is look­ing at it. The problem is that gov­ern­ments are afraid to take risks. It’s a new econ­omy and a new era.

I guess the tech mantra of “Fail fast, fail early” doesn’t fly at city hall.

Ex­actly. But we can’t op­er­ate that way any­more. That’s why the city set up a new Civic In­no­va­tion Of­fice. We’re find­ing so­lu­tions to an­ti­quated ser­vices. For ex­am­ple, the fer­ries didn’t have on­line tick­et­ing un­til this sum­mer. Rit­ual, the on­line or­der­ing app, came along and said, “We can do this.”

What’s one Toronto start-up we should be watch­ing right now?

Drop­Bike is go­ing to ex­plode. A lot of peo­ple don’t use our Bike Share sys­tem be­cause they have to bring it back to a sta­tion. With Drop­Bike, you can drop it any­where, be­cause it has GPS in it. It can solve all of our bike­shar­ing prob­lems.

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